GENDER AND LAND DISPOSSESSION IN ZIMBABWE: A CASE OF THE NDEBELE AT ESIGODINI AREA, 1893–2003
The Ndebele tribe in Zimbabwe has probably experienced more land dispossessions than any other tribe, beginning the 1890s with the arrival of the whites. Most of this history, unfortunately, is not well documented. Based on an oral history approach, this article focuses on the gendered dimensions of land dispossession. It seeks to answer questions such as: Do men and women view land ownership and land issues in the same way? Did the land dispossessions that took place for more than one hundred years in Zimbabwe, particularly in the Ndebele tribe, affect the way land is viewed in terms of gender? The research further sought to find out how women have been historically marginalised or emancipated in the community. Given the importance of land in any culture, the research also seeks to find out how a shift in the way land is viewed, in terms of gender, can improve the lives of many in the Ndebele tribe. The research was conducted in Esikhoveni Village in Esigodini, Matabeleland South. It was based on oral history, targeting the headmen and other elders noted for their wisdom and knowledge of the area. A total of sixteen (16) informants were interviewed using judgemental and snowball strategies. The study revealed that land was considered an important resource in the area. Women had limited opportunities for land ownership in the village. Culture and tradition were still dominant over legal provisions when it came to land and gender issues. The study recommends a new and more rigorous approach by the government and other stakeholders to change the cultural and traditional perceptions of the rural communities in order to achieve a gender balance regarding land ownership and allocation.
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